Update: Women's Health Week, How Pharmacists Can Manage Stress and Alternative MRI Markers in Radiology

We highlight findings on health issues around awareness for Women's Health Week,  ways Pharmacists can manage stress at work and findings about alternative items for MRI markers to reduce medical imaging costs.

Women's Health Week: Australian Health Issues

How Pharmacists Can Manage Stress

Alternative MRI Markers in Radiology

 

Women's Health Week: Australian Health Issues

Last week, Australian women joined in the Women’s Health Week, an annual event organised since 2013 educating women to prioritise better health and lifestyle. 

This year, it was held from 2 – 6 September 2019 and women across the nation participated in online health tips, videos, educational resources and information. There were also local and regional events to raise awareness for the health issues they may face.

Women’s Health has had strong improvements over the past years, according to the Australia’s Health 2018 report by the Australian Health and Welfare Institute. Initiatives like the Women’s Health Week are important to raise awareness  for extra attention to health concerns.

Dementia and Alzheimer Disease

According to the same report, Dementia and Alzheimer's disease was the leading cause of death for female in 2016.

Leading causes of death in Australia

HealthDirect suggested that there are currently more than 400,000 people in Australia suffering from dementia. 55% of those are women. 

Women are at a slightly higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than men. And unfortunately, recent findings are similar to research and reports from last decade. An Access Economics report commissioned by Alzheimer’s Australia and published in March 2005, suggested that the number of people with dementia in Australia will be 25% higher by 2050 than what was originally predicted. 

According to The Alzheimer’s Australia Chief Executive Officer, it was disappointing that dementia was the leading cause of death in women in Australia and that the overall rates for dementia were increasing.

Not only do we need an ongoing commitment to find the best possible cure and treatments for it, we also need to continuously seek awareness and understanding about it across our communities and we need effective support networks in place to those affected. 

More women are impacted by dementia than men, but they are also the predominant workforce that provides formal and informal care to those patients. About two thirds of primary caregivers for people with dementia are women working  in hospitals, social care for communities and care homes. 

The UK’s Alzheimer Society and the Harvard Health Publishing both suggested reducing the risk of dementia by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Important factors are having a balanced diet, enough daily sleep and exercising both physically and mentally will help to fight against the risks of dementia and Alzheimer's.

Heart Diseases

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) combines a range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. Coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure are among the serious types of CVD.

In Australia, CVD remains as a significant health problem for women, despite the decline of mortality and hospitalisation rates. According to the Cardiovascular disease in Australian women — a snapshot of national statistics report, more than half a million women in Australia had cardiovascular disease in the 2017-2018 period. In 2016, coronary heart disease (11%) and cerebrovascular diseases (such as strokes, 8%) were 2 of the top 3 leading specific causes of female deaths.

The report also suggested that many chronic conditions share common risk factors that can be preventable. Examples may be tobacco use, high alcohol consumption, weight and obesity, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.

For Doctors in Australia, educating your patients on the above factors  can help to reduce the risks of developing CVD-related issues. Small lifestyle changes are also highly encouraged, such as having a healthy diet and being more active. 

Smoking

Lung ailments are also an important aspect of health issues faced by Australians. 

There are various risks and causes associated as The Cancer Council states, but it is estimated 65% of lung cases in women are a result of tobacco smoking.

The earlier you start smoking, the longer you keep smoking and the more cigarettes you consume then the higher the risk of developing serious lung ailments. Other factors that may increase the risks include: second-hand smoke, asbestos, workplace exposure to radon and occupational substances such as uranium and chromium, diesel fumes, an HIV infection and any prior family history. 

We have only covered the surface for areas where Doctors can greatly impact their patients' lives with the right kind of education and support for better health. There are more. 

What are some of the ways to tackle these health issues you have found to be successful in your practice? We would love to hear from you. 

young pharmacist suggesting medical drug to buyer in pharmacy drugstore-1

How Pharmacists Can Manage Stress

A survey by Professional Pharmacists Australia has shown that pharmacists have similarly high stress levels at work just like some of the other health professionals.

The survey found that pharmacists in general, were also more stressed than the general population. The author of the study, professor Colin Chapman from Monash University’s Emeritus and his colleagues from Master Research Australasia and the Pharmacists’ Support Service suggested that the pharmacists under the age of 30 with up to 10 years of experience in the profession, reported the highest levels of stress.

The survey also highlighted that a lot of Australia’s pharmacists are not happy with their work-life balance. 

Factors leading to stress

Some of the factors found that may have contributed to pharmacists’ burnout include:

  • High workload to cope with 
  • Inadequate rewards and incentives and feeling undervalued
  • Lack of a supportive workplace community
  • Working in isolation or understaffed small teams 
  • Lack of control over the workload and outcomes 
  • Unfair treatment on both personal and professional level 
  • Mismatch of the values between the pharmacist and pharmacy

Pharmacists are one of the main pillars in the healthcare industry, their health and well-being is crucial as the quality of their care given to patients may be impacted. So how can Pharmacists better manage their stress?

Recommended methods to deal with stress

One of the main reasons contributing to the stress is a lack of adequate incentives or recognition in the work. Pharmacists should first consider talking to the pharmacy owner about this. Every owner ensures their staff can work in a safe and supported environment and if you are experiencing issues relating to your workload and the remuneration for it, being able to discuss this will be beneficial for both. It allows both to come up with a suitable solution. 

Being aware of the symptoms of stress in your body will also help. In the same study findings posted by the AJP, Kate Carnell one of the respondents, said that “When it’s happening to you - when you’re struggling to sleep or to concentrate, you’re having mood swings, all the things that can go alongside like depression or palpitations with anxiety - you’ve got to recognise them in yourself.”

Meditation is a valuable and effective method to help pharmacists manage their feelings and overcome the feeling of stress. It is proven that with 10 minutes of daily meditation, you can increase the ability to detect stress levels. Additionally, practising mindfulness will also help to connect with your feelings and emotions to work your way out of it.

Practising Self-Care

Self-care is also an important factor that pharmacists can use to practice with high levels of daily stress. Rest breaks throughout your day and maintaining good energy levels with nutritious and healthy food and drinking plenty of water are also great ways to support yourself. 

Generally pharmacies are busy and do not support regular breaks from work throughout the day. But breaks are essential to ensure adequate concentration to accurately address patient and customer needs.  

Are you working as a pharmacist currently and experiencing a lot of stress in the workplace? Let us know.

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Alternative MRI Markers in Radiology

This week, a study from Queensland University of Technology, BMJ Open Study and Mater Medical Imaging has revealed that sweets, vitamins and soy sauce containers could be MRI markers and serve as alternatives to commercial ones.

According to the findings, these and some other relatively cheap, common items have been shown to be consistently visible MRI markers when placed on a patient to pinpoint specific areas  being scanned.

Dr Paige Little, Senior Research Fellow from the QUT Biomechanics and Spine Research Group, reported that in order to generate images of organs, bones and tissue, the MRI uses strong magnetic fields. This, combined with loud noises from the equipment, have created challenges for radiographers to perform MRI scans successfully on children.

Little boy at the hospital being held by a doctor

This study has confirmed the use of inexpensive everyday items as an MRI marker. Sweets such as a jelly babies or a plastic soy sauce container, could make the overall process less intimidating for children who are scared of the scans. 

Dr Little also mentioned the group’s collaborative Sleep Posture research project wanted to look at alternatives to commercial markers , which often cost between $6 and $10 each. As the group conducted the study with 50 participants, the costs associated with getting each of them an individual marker were substantial. 

It was important to find a marker that was small, cheap and easily sourced, which could also be visible on MRI and distinguishable from bone and soft tissue.

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All of the alternative markers, alongside a commercial product for comparison, were tested and scanned at Mater Medical Imaging using the five most commonly ordered MRI sequences.

Not all of the testers generated equivalent results. The visibility of some items, like the coffee bean, was poor, but the vitamin D capsule proved to be the best substitute for a commercial marker on all of the tests. Especially for smaller areas of the body like the fingers and toes. The jelly baby sweets, soy sauce container, and fish oil capsules were also viable alternatives for some of the MRI sequences, not all. 

Depending on what had to be done, these four items were cheap and could serve as reliable alternatives to a commercial marker. This could greatly help to reduce any medical imaging department’s overall costs where necessary. 

On top of that benefit, using familiar items could help to make the medical imaging process a lot less frightening for children. 

Dr Little said that while the study has not tested at what point the cheaper alternatives might rupture and spill contents, the research group has since been using the vitamin D capsules routinely in its spinal studies. And in the Sealy of Australia-supported ‘Science of Sleep’ project, multiple markers were used throughout the MRI scanning sessions, and none had ruptured or degraded.

Do you think these new findings would be widely applied across the medical imaging industry? We would love to hear from you.

Gorilla Jobs can assist you with exploring a variety of job opportunities across our large network of clients looking for qualified staff. Our experienced consultants in the Doctor, Imaging and Pharmacy divisions look forward to helping you.

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